Dubai: One out of 10 internet users were affected by security breaches upon the world's Domain Name System (DNS) earlier this year, says Rod Beckstrom, President and Chief Officer of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (Icann).

The threats are real cause for concern by an international community that needs to work more cohesively to ensure the world's "internet ecosystem" is protected for the billions of users every day, Beckstrom said this week at Icann's international meeting in Brussels, Belgium.

Headquartered in California, the not-for-profit body Icann oversees the domain name system and governs the assignment of top-level domain names such as .com, .net, .org and .mobi.

The organisation is installing new security measures to protect its root-kit system to keep hackers at bay and one trillion DNS transactions moving along every day.

"The Internet and the DNS are central to global communications, industry, communities and the world economy. Icann consults widely within the community on cyber security issues that relate to the DNS. We have moved ahead vigorously on a number of key security initiatives, including the DNSSEC root signing now taking place."

Like any human-made system, the "DNS has weaknesses," he said. "It doesn't mean the system is weak; in fact, it is highly decentralised and in many ways quite strong, but like every important facet of the internet, it is under attack by miscreants with malicious intent."

Addressing anomalies

Since Icann's meeting in Nairobi earlier this year, Beckstrom said "several security incidents have occurred, including DNS anomalies in South America and North America, and global address touring anomalies that affected up to 10 per cent of global addresses."

He didn't elaborate on the nature of the anomalies.

Beckstrom said that despite continued vigilance against attacks, one can never be too careful.

He noted that "reports around the world indicate that cyber attacks are on the rise. It is a growing global phenomenon affecting many industries and no one has made a credible argument that the DNS is immune from this threat."

"The DNS is essential for a single, inter-operable and reliable internet. No one wants to experience in real life the repercussions of a major DNS outage. We have an opportunity [to] take strong preventative measures now so that we may try to avoid a major disruption to our daily lives," he told delegates.

Beckstrom said that Icann will work harder to defend itself.

"Icann cannot resolve these issues alone. We need to work within our family of organisations — large and small, formal and informal — to draw on the wealth of expertise around us. Icann's mission is to ensure a secure, stable and unified global internet. We must be an active catalyst for its defence," he continued. "Our assumption must be that security can always be improved."

There are more than 180 million registered domain names around the globe and billions of personal and corporate email.

According to, the world's internet community has grown by 399 per cent from 360 million internet users in late 2000 to 1.8 billion users by latest count.

And internet penetration around the world in the last decade has reached 26.6 per cent of the world's total population of 6.7 billion people.